What is the difference between paint or stain with regard to decks?

Q. What is the difference between paint or stain with regard to decks?

The difference between paint and stain can be looked at in two ways: the appearance desired from the work, and product the formulation. With a stained appearance, you are usually looking to obtain a certain color of the wood, while still seeing the grain. Thus, if you stain wood for example, you still expect to see the texture of the wood while transmitting a different color.

Deck or wood stains have three general classifications:

  1. transparent
  2. semi-transparent, and
  3. solid color (or “opaque”).With a transparent stain, we expect to fully see the wood grain and experience it’s “natural state”.

With a semi-transparent stain applied to wood, we expect to see the wood grain and its texture, whereas with a solid color stain, the grain will be hidden while the texture will still normally be noticeable. With a painted appearance, we have created a new surface that completely hides the old surface, and has its own appearance, which is usually smooth, though textured paints are certainly used a lot.

The paint job often includes a primer coat and a finish coat, whereas the stain job will not normally have a primer, unless there is concern about excessive discoloration from tannin bleed-through Woods such as cedar and redwood).

The product formulations differ in a broad sense in that stains (especially the semi-transparent types) are less highly pigmented than are solid-color stains and paints. Most semi-transparent stains are water-based. Opaque stains are much more like paints in their pigmentation; and like paints, are available in acrylic and oil-based formulas.

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